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Career Fulfillment Obstacles and CV Writing Tips

So it’s Friday and, boy, am I ready for the weekend! I'm sure that all of you are ready for a weekend too now that its three full weeks into the term. You're immersed in readings, project meetings, and possibly have a few bags or boxes still to unpack after moving to the area or returning from your internships.

This blog is going to have a couple of different topics. The first part is an introduction to a series that I plan on writing about throughout this fall term. I have about 25 different resources that I am going to discuss and point out to you that you can be utilizing for your job or internship search. To kick this series off, I want to share with you some information on career fulfillment obstacles.

Way back when I got my masters degree and was also immersed in readings, group projects and multiple packing’s and unpacking’s, I had to study student development and career development theories and do research, write papers and also do my own job search. During this time, I came across some great research that explains why many people have difficulties obtaining career fulfillment. (I bet that most of you readers out there never even knew that there are theories on student development and career development -- but it's true, there are!)

Kinnier and Krubmoltz (1984) found from their research, six major obstacles that people are challenged by in their own career satisfaction. These six obstacles are:
1. People acquire inaccurate information or maladaptive beliefs about themselves and the world. They often operate under presuppositions they have never examined. (For example, you want to be an archivist because you read The Archivist and it sounded really cool. But is it a good fit for you and your personality?)
2. People are uncertain about their own priorities. They feel unclear or conflicted about what they really want to value. (Ex: You want to make money and do something good for the world and travel two months a year – what’s most important to you really?)
3. People are unaware of their own abilities and interests and how their skills and preferences are related to the occupational structure of society. (Ex: People say that you are good at something, but what careers fit that skill?)
4. Although a wealth of occupational information is available (probably too much!), people find it difficult to ask pertinent questions, to motivate themselves to find answers, to penetrate the overwhelming mass of material, and to distinguish biased information from facts. (Ex: Informational Interviews are the key to a job search and to discovering if a job is what you really think it is – but rarely do people take the steps to set them up, ask the right questions, and reflect productively)
5. People generally do not have a systemic method for making career-related decision. They often make decision haphazardly.
6. People find that obtaining a job is a lonely, frustrating task for which they are ill prepared. (No need to explain these last two!)

(Source: Student Services: A Handbook for the Professional by Susan R. Komives, Dudley B. Woodward, Jr., and Associates, 2003, pg. 499-500)

I bet most of us just thought that it was the application process that was keeping us from the dream job (and that's a whole other blog topic -- or even a dissertation on game theory and interviewing!)

It would be really great if we would all think about these things when we ask ourselves, what sort of job do we want when we leave SI? What questions do I need to ask? I think one of the biggest issues that people have is that they romanticize jobs. I know of one miserable SI student who thought they wanted to be an archivist until they realized that they were going to be alone much of the day. I can relate -- a dream job of mine was to be a writer, but when I came to the conclusion that spending a day at a computer all alone with only my imagination and my kitchen cupboard, I would easily go insane, write nothing, and probably eat more than I never needed!

So, while you are thinking about your choices here at SI and taking in all of this information that our great information school provides, ask yourself, what do I actually know about the career that I think I want to go into? What sort of environment do I want to work in? What have I like and disliked about my past jobs – how do those things relate to what I think I want to do when I graduate?

Share with me your thoughts – and thought processes on your career decision making. I would also be interested in talking through some of these challenges with anyone that wants to discuss their decision making thus far – or to come up with a plan to overcome these obstacles – now and even later in life.

In the next few months, you are going to be seeing lots of blog topics that should help you overcome these obstacles.

Now, for another resource that I wanted to share with you that I came across today:

The Chronicle of Higher Education posts articles daily on the academic job search. The CV Doctor Returns by Julie Miller Vick and Jennifer S. Furlong may be a great resource for you if you have a Curriculum Vitae that needs a little bit of help. In this article, Miller Vick and Furlong provide some great advice that transcends to resume writing. See the Extend Entry for a text-version of this article or click on the link above to view the article and a CV with comments.

With the arrival of fall comes the renewal of the academic hiring season and the avalanche of questions about how to organize a CV.

So we have once again donned our CV Doctor coats to help readers put together a document that demonstrates their record and their potential -- in a way that is clear and appealing without being gimmicky.

Since 1999, we have asked readers to send in their vitas to be selected for an online critique. We try to focus on different fields each year. This year, we chose to evaluate three faculty CV's: one for a Ph.D. in the social sciences, one in the biomedical sciences, and one for an M.F.A. seeking to return to teaching. We also selected the CV of a midlevel manager in information-technology administration looking to move up the ranks at a major research university. (continued...)

We hope that seeing what they did right and wrong, as well reading our recommendations, will help those of you going on the market this year. But in reviewing the dozens of CV's we received, we also spotted several recurring problems that we would like to highlight here:

If you include a profile of your work on your CV, it should be short. A profile is a brief summary of your skills, not a detailed, two-page list.
A word about CV length and what information to include: If you have attended 100 workshops on some kind of technology don't list them all. Use the word "Selected" and list the most relevant ones.
If you had another career before getting your Ph.D., mention it only briefly. Generally speaking, you are being evaluated for what you can offer in your new field, not for your former career in sales. Discuss a former career in detail only if it is practically related to your field. For example, an architect now working on a Ph.D. in architecture should include some information about his or her professional career.
If you would like to include a description of a current book-length project or a dissertation abstract in your job application, those should be separate documents from your CV. Such descriptions involve too much text to be part of the CV. As a rule, avoid including paragraph-length text of any kind on your CV. Save it for your cover letters, or for your research and teaching statements.
Radical mixing of information doesn't work. For example, if you are a candidate for an administrative position, your CV should not mention in the same section that you were director of admissions and coordinator of cheerleading.
Don't forget to include a "References" section in your application with the names, titles, and contact information of those who will be writing letters on your behalf.
As usual, some otherwise well-designed CV's faltered due to mistakes that could be prevented with a little extra proofreading. Here are a few such dos and don'ts:

Omit zip codes (except in your own contact information and that of your references) and birthdates.
If you share an e-mail account with your spouse or partner, please don't use it in your career correspondence. It's easy enough to open up a separate account for your professional interactions and looks much more professional than johnandsuzie@provider.com.
Avoid weird graphics.
A 20-page CV is too long -- no matter how accomplished you are.
Don't list every award you have ever received. A section called "Selected Awards and Honors" is more effective.
Avoid using justified margins on both sides of the page because you can end up with some odd spacing.
Don't boldface information in a random way. It only confuses the reader and looks messy. Be consistent.
If you've changed your name, explain that -- briefly.
Spell curriculum vitae correctly.
Do not include course numbers when you list classes you have taught. Those numbers vary from institution to institution.
Don't use acronyms until after you have written out the title in full on first reference.
If you need more help, we recommend consulting previous columns of The CV Doctor. (View them using the archive menu on the top right of this page.)

We would also like to note that we received CV's from people at institutions that we know have very capable career-services offices who can give excellent feedback. When seeking career advice, try your Ph.D.-granting institution first. Even if you have moved away from the university, its career counselors may be able to help you.

Posted by kkowatch at September 21, 2007 12:33 PM


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